I have remained completely mum on the entire American Idol competition, although as a number of fellow diabetes bloggers have noted, Crystal Bowersox, a native from the Toledo, Ohio area, was among the final two remaining contestants in the competition. Bowersox has type 1 diabetes, and she even spoke about it during the competition following a health incident early in the competition. Many in the diabetes community felt the title should have gone to her. Based on her performance and that of her rival (and the 2010 American Idol winner) Lee DeWyze, a Chicago-area native, I was inclined to agree on the basis of their Tuesday evening performances alone.
But that didn't happen.
Instead, Crystal Bowersox got the unglamourous title of runner-up, while DeWyze got the title. Some (OK, many) are lamenting the final outcome, we should be asking "does it REALLY even matter?"
After all, this competition has always been a popularity contest that occasionally has proven to have little to do with actual musical talent or liklihood of success. One look no further than a few years ago during Season 6 when a contestant named Sanjaya Malakar remained in the competition for far longer than anyone would have predicted. At that point, it became widely known that automated computer-controlled telephone dialers (some of which were rumored to be physically located in India) had influenced the vote outcomes (for more on the auto-dialer conversation, see here for details) keeping Malakar in the competition. Last season, there was also some question as to whether the actual Idol winner, Kris Allen, was indeed more talented than his rival, Adam Lambert. Many critics suggested that it was Allen's cute face and charming demeanor that endeared him to many young girls who called in and texted votes for their favored competitor, in spite of rival Lambert's very highly-regarded competition performances.
However, I'd like to go on record saying that in the end, it's largely irrelevant.
History has proven that in many cases, the Idol non-winners have gone on to become far more successful recording artists and entertainers than the winners. A number of prominent Idol "losers" have achieved stunning success, among them Academy-award winner Jennifer Hudson (best supporting actress in "Dreamgirls"), Chris Daughtry who is perhaps one of the most successful American Idol contestants of all time based on sales, behind only Kelly Clarkson and possibly Carrie Underwood, both of whom won their respective seasons. There are a number of others, including: Katharine McPhee (recording), David Archuleta (recording), Clay Aiken (Broadway, recording), Constantine Maroulis (Broadway), Adam Lambert (recording), and probably a few others I have forgotten to include on this list.
On the other hand, there are also a few Idol winners whose success has been far more modest than their win might have suggested they could or should be, among them: Ruben Studdard, Taylor Hicks, and Jordin Sparks.
The simple reality is this: Crystal Bowersox is likely to get a recording contract anyway, and depending on what she chooses to record, could ultimately do as well (if not better) than Lee DeWyze -- Idol success does not necessarily translate into recording success. As the entertainment inudstry has learned, there is plenty of gold to be mined from the entire cast of American Idol, sometimes even more from the losers in the competition!
Bowersox perhaps said it best herself on this clip from MTV, in which she stated "we both win.":
On the upside, this season on television, diabetes (type 1 in particular) has garnered a lot of attention from American Idol, and Brett Michaels on Celebrity Apprentice, not to mention the vetting of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor (who kept a regular Sprite with her as she spoke before the Judiciary Committee in Congress). Health issues made their presence known in some subtle, and in other cases, not-so-subtle ways. This brought attention to the fact that in spite of existing palliative treatments, it remains a never-ending challenge to achieve the balance that ordinary people with diabetes don't even have to think about. Even so, people with diabetes are proving themselves in increasingly prominent public roles, and we are likely to be hearing more from Crysal Bowersox in the not-too-distant future.